Children are resilient beings, but even in the most amicable of divorces, they still suffer emotional consequences when their parents split. After all, the divorce has totally shaken their foundation and sense of security. Therapy can help children of divorce adjust to the new family dynamics, provide them with an outlet for their confusing emotions, and help them deal with the issues they are most distressed about.
Family therapist Brenna Hicks, Ph.D., LMHC, explains, “Children often are caught in the middle in a divorce, therapy aside. Children will almost always need help adjusting to the new normal and making sense of their feelings. Therapy is a great way to accomplish those goals and set your children up for well-being.”
What Are Some Signs That My Child Should See a Therapist?
You know your child and her temperament better than anyone does. If you sense she is distressed and not acclimating well to the divorce, it is a good idea to visit a family therapist for guidance.
The American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT) notes, “While great diversity exists in children’s adjustment to divorce, and a majority of children weather the transition and become competent adults, up to a quarter of children whose parents divorce experience ongoing emotional and behavior difficulties.”
Some of the signs that indicate therapy may be in order include:
- Regressive behaviors, e.g., thumb sucking, bedwetting, talking like a baby
- Unusual clinginess and anxiety over being apart from a parent
- Moodiness and changes in personality
- Bad behaviors and acting out
- Outbursts of anger or crying
- Trying to manipulate the parents
- Signs of sadness and depression
- Changes in eating or sleeping habits
- Subjection to parental manipulation
- Problems at school and with peers
What Types of Therapy Services Are Available for Children of Divorce?
Many parents forego therapy for themselves or their kids due to financial and insurance concerns. If you are insured, contact your provider for information about your coverage and in-network providers. Also, there are a lot of free or low-cost resources available that your child can benefit from. You might want to look into:
- Small group sessions offered by some school districts.
- Divorce education programs for parents and children that the court works with. (Our firm can provide referrals.)
- Family therapy offered at public or private centers.
For help with family law issues in Washington, including those related to custody, child support, and visitation, contact our Bellevue family law office at 425-460-0550.